Just one a glass of an alcoholic drink, increases the possibilities for a driver to be involved in a fatal accident.
You should have no illusions: Even one glass of alcoholic drink is enough to serious impair your driving abilities, raising the chances of being responsible for causing a fatal accident.
It is estimated that one glass of beer or a measurement of an alcoholic drink, liqueur, or whisky, raises alcohol’s content in the blood to the point of doubling the risk of a fatal road accident in which only one car is involved.
Of course, alcohol in the blood is not the only factor determining safety. Other factors which may co-exist raise dramatically the death risk following the consumption of one or two alcoholic drinks, even if the quantity of alcohol in the blood is within permissible limits.
Especially dangerous factors are alcohol combined with sleep deprivation or certain medicines.
Alcohol and sleep deprivation
A number of studies have shown that people having sleep deprivation drive very badly two hours after drinking 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks. These people over-estimate their ability to drive, exposing both their life and the life of other innocent people to a serious danger.
Today we know very well that many people, and particularly young people, because of their way of life, night outings and entertainment, are sleep deprived. This fact, combined with consumption of alcohol and night time driving, create the preconditions for road accidents and human tragedies, deaths, injuries, or disabilities.
Sleep deprivation of itself is a source of accidents. But when it is compounded with drinking alcohol, it makes things even worse. Even a small sleep deprivation, coupled with little alcohol, multiplies the risk of accidents.
Alcohol and Medicines
Alcohol acts synergistically with certain medicaments, like tranquilizers and some pain-killers or anti-histaminic drugs. This synergy even following only 1-2 alcoholic drinks makes the driver sleepy and dramatically increases the risk of accident.
Alcohol diminishes the readiness of our nervous system. It reduces the speed of reaction, because it stifles our reflexes. It affects our judgement and slows down decision taking.
In a complex process like driving a car, which requires many skills and taking decisions very quickly, one alcoholic drink by itself or combined with sleep deprivation or certain medicines, makes it more difficult for the driver to see the road ahead properly, to monitor the movement of other cars, be careful of pedestrians, understand correctly his speed, and be able to park and make the correct manoeuvres in the driving wheel.
U.S statistics show that 40% of all deaths in road accidents are due to driving under the influence of alcohol. This means that in the U.S. alone some 17.000 people lose their life because of drink driving.
When you are somewhere with friends, strongly discourage those who are going to drive later from having even one alcoholic drink. Refuse to get into a car that will be driven by somebody who has had alcoholic drinks. Choose to call a taxi to go to your destination, instead of accepting to be driven by somebody who has consumed alcohol.
If you have guests in your house, do not give special importance to alcoholic drinks. Offer your guests a bigger selection of non-alcoholic drinks and remind them that taking even a single alcoholic drink may be dangerous for their safety when they drive.
Stop offering alcohol to your guests, about 90 minutes before the time you estimate that your party or dinner will be over and your guests will have to return to their homes.
Preventing deaths, injuries and disabilities caused by road accidents should be everybody’s concern. It is only through joint and continuous efforts that we can shorten the endless list of road accident victims.
In the field of combating drink driving, on numerous occasions we can all make a contribution by dissuading people to have even one single drink.
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
National Safety Council
National Institute for Occupational Health